WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that she and her husband intend to sell back their riverfront property to an Anchorage businessman.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced the giveback a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a 15-page Senate ethics complaint against her, alleging that Anchorage businessman Bob Penney sold the property well below market value. The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center.
Murkowski told reporters in her Capitol office this morning that Penney, a real estate developer who does business in Alaska and Outside, has agreed to buy back the property for the $179,400 purchase price she and husband Verne Martell paid Dec. 22, 2006.
“While Verne and I intended to make this our family home and we paid a fair price for this land, no property is worth compromising the trust of the Alaska people,” Murkowski said in a written statement. “I cannot allow this to become a distraction from the major challenges faced in representing Alaska. So we have decided to sell this property back to Bob Penney at the same price for which it was purchased.”
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said Thursday that Murkowski did the right thing by announcing she would return the property. But, he added, his complaint should still be heard because Murkowski’s 2006 disclosure remains inaccurate. Among his charges was that she failed to disclose the transaction as required by Senate rules.